Friday, January 10, 2014

Visiting Ruby McKim...And An Unexpected Visitor

I had a great time this past Wednesday night at the Common Threads Quilt Club in Parker, CO...thanks, friends!

First, though, I spent the afternoon appraising at High Prairie Quilts in Parker. Jeanie, the owner, has a wide array of bolts, tools and patterns, including everything from calicoes to vintage looks to batiks. (Yes, of course I bought some fabric! I am a quilter, after all...)
     The shop is full of ideas, including quilt samples (for classes and kits) ranging around the shop's perimeter, hung high on the wall. Some real beauties, too.

What's your pleasure,'ll find it here!
We'd finished up the appraising, and Judi, who was assisting me, left. I stepped to the cash register to talk to Gina and pay for my stuff. Then an older lady decided to visit the shop --

      Through the front door.

      In her pickup truck.


My first thought was that an earthquake had struck. The next was that the roof fell in. We rushed out to find the lady, sitting perfectly still, in her truck with the motor still running. The doors to the classroom -- the same room I and Judi had been in, barely 20 min. before -- were gone. Shoot, the FRAME to the doors was gone. A huge gaping hole took their place.
     All I could think was, "Thank God." If we had been in there, Judi would definitely have been hit. (Me too, probably.) If the lady had gone through the other pair of glass doors instead, she would have taken out three customers who were leaving...and another couple who were just coming in.

I had to meet guild members, so didn't find out what had happened. (I'd guess some sort of blackout. Poor lady.) When I drove past an hour later, plywood had been put up, and the Fire Department was gone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * *** * *** * **  * ** * ** *** ** * * * * * * * * *

At night, the Common Threads girls and I had a long talk about Ruby...

     Ruby McKim, an extraordinary quilt designer whose work ranged from 1916 to just before her death in 1976.

     She not only designed and marketed all sorts of quilt series, from the Quaddy Quiltie (Thornton Burgess characters) to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, but she also designed for the Kansas City Star, as well as McKim Studios, the company she owned with her husband. The McKims also sold American-made and imported dolls, as well as quilt kits and patterns through their catalog, "Designs Worth Doing."
     (Ironically, she died in July of that year, in Independence, MO -- I will always wonder what she would have come up with to celebrate the Bicentennial.) 

     Want to learn more about this fascinating person, and her work?

A good starting point is Ruby's profile on the Quilter's Hall of Fame site. (She was inducted in the early 2000s.) But you'll want to spend the most time on Karen Alexander's fascinating (and thorough) coverage of the "Ruby McKim Revival," on the QHF blog.

Another McKim scholar, Jill Sutton Filo, took a long and loving look at McKim in her Roly-Poly Circus Quilt book. (These are selling at high prices on Amazon and Ebay, but we actually have two copies at more reasonable prices. Ask, and I'll pass on more information.)

     For  various versions of Ruby's Flower Garden and state flower quilts, see Tim Latimer's blog. (Boy, this guy has got it bad.)

And a long and loving look at various McKim series , interpreted mostly in quilt form, from Lynn's Quilts - Vintage and Antique blog.

You can always contact us at Brickworks for more info on Ruby, as well -- just write me:

And finally, there's Ruby's famous book, 101 Patchwork Patterns. This has been in print for many decades, and is easy to find. (Warning: Not all the pattern pieces work! You may have to do some drafting...Ruby did understand the basics of quiltmaking, and made quilts herself. Maybe she was in a hurry. Regardless, this is an inspirational pattern book.)

     Ruby's granddaughter Merrily has resurrected McKim Studios, and is promoting Ruby's work. Stop by for a visit, and find out more.  McKim Studios also sells a variety of Ruby's patterns, and gives a rich view of "Grammy" and her family's love for her.

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